BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt Wednesday praised the bravery of President Michel Sleiman, as the former Army Commander readies to leave the top post May 25.
“Sleiman is a brave president, while we have had bitter experiences with others,” Jumblatt said from Parliament, in a clear reference to former President Emile Lahoud.
Jumblatt had a tense relationship with Lahoud, also a former Army Commander, who took office as president in Nov. 1998.
Sleiman succeeded Lahoud and was sworn into office on May 25, 2008.
In earlier remarks, Jumblatt said that Lebanon has now entered a power vacuum, thanks to the announcement by MP Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc.
“The statement by the Change and Reform bloc ... is discouraging,” Jumblatt told An-Nahar in comments published Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we have entered a [power] vacuum starting from now,” he said.
Aoun’s bloc said it would not attend a voting session scheduled for Thursday, provided there had been no agreement on a consensus candidate.
“If circumstances remain the same by Thursday, then MPs from our bloc will not attend,” a statement by Aoun’s coalition said after its weekly meeting.
“If circumstances changed toward an agreement which we are seeking, we will attend Thursday’s election session,” the statement added.
MPs have botched four attempts in less than a month to elect a new head of state, due to a lack of quorum to choose a successor to President Michel Sleiman.
And in the absence of agreement on a consensus candidate between the Future Movement-led March 14 and the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalitions to break the impasse, Thursday’s session is likely to fail.
Lawmakers from Aoun’s parliamentary bloc, MPs from Hezbollah’s bloc and their March 8 allies have boycotted the four previous sessions, thwarting the required two-thirds quorum.